Posted in RAG Resources

RAG On a Budget

RAG was started for the sole purpose of raising money and giving back to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. RAGs at universities however are not always as prosperous or profitable their own society as they might be in terms of raising money. Being a RAG on a budget can mean that it is hard when it comes ot running events, but there are lots of ways that you can begin to raise money for your RAG without breaking the bank.

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To start with, you should head to your student’s union to ask the activities department what the allowance is for your society – if any – and see what you have to work with. There is little chance that a RAG will have a budget at all and if so, it is time to fundraise for yourselves! There are two ways to go around this depending on if you’re an established RAG or if you’re brand new, and here are my tips for both.

An Established RAG

If you are an established RAG which has plenty of resources such as able cloths and previous fundraising items, then it might be easier for you to begin fundraising for your RAG. Something that can be a big hit are events such as Strictly Come Dancing and similar which bring in big bucks with the help of other societies. However, events like these take lots of planning and there are some easy ways to make money if you try hard!

One way is by going through all of the old RAG gear and seeing what you can use. If there are table cloths and stuff then you can run “Raise for RAG!” cupcake stands, sell sweets, offer revision services to lower year groups and similar. Being an established RAG means you have more contacts within the activities department and can ask other societies for help too. Maybe the baking society can help you with the cupcakes? When you have enough money you can then begin to think about raising for other charities. A good amount to have in storage is about £100 unless you want to run hitch events in which case you need more like thousands, but in time this can happen, just not necessarily in one year.

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Brand New RAG

If you are a brand new RAG then it can be difficult to get on your feet. There may not be any materials in your society area and you might need some new things. Without a budget this can be hard and there is also no budget in order to bake cakes with etc. One way to make money is to partnership up with one society for a year and see if they can help you to raise money. As aforementioned, if your dance society runs a university Come Dancing event then this can bring in a lot of money and maybe they can donate half the earnings to you and half to a charity! That way you are still providing for a charity and not just for yourselves.

The other excellent way to fundraise is by using your own money to run cupcake stalls etc and use old bedding from uni to make into table cloths etcetera to raise the money with. When there is a pay off you can reimburse yourself and as you build up and established RAG you can dream bigger and follow the fundraising events I have in the blog menu.

If you have any specific questions about how to raise money for your RAG then please feel free to comment below!

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Posted in RAG Resources

What Is Challenge Recruitment Season?

Challenge recruitment season is a period of time that your RAG selects in order to recruit students to come on the charity challenge events that you are running throughout the year. There are a few different ways that RAGs choose to do this and the way you choose to do it can impact the amount of people that sign up to challenges, however, this can be a trial and error situation and certain processes may work for your university that don’t work for others.

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One of the most common ways that RAGs run their recruitment is by taking a period of months between the start of the university academic year and Christmas before the challenge providers close their sign ups. Recruitment is normally done at fresher’s fairs at tables and giving out flyers as well as using innovative ways such as Tinder to put out an advert for challenges and allowing people to swipe “right!” if they want more information.

If you are a RAG which is running more than one challenge throughout the academic year then you may want to spread your recruitment over the academic year. Some RAGs who have done this previously have found that it works much better for them and they have had a lot more people signing up. One way they do this is by pushing the sign up opportunities for Kilimanjaro for a solid month (without mentioning the forthcoming other challenges) and meeting a sign up requirement. They then stop advertising this one challenge and move onto the next one which might be something like the Bilbao Night Marathon and then people sign up for that one and so on… This needs to be discussed with the challenge provider as you need to make sure there is enough time for people to sign up and you can meet your sign up targets.

Challenge recruitment season is a big time for RAGs and I will do a post on some of my best tips for recruiting students! Good luck!

Posted in RAG Resources

What is a DBS Check?

When taking part in charity work, or volunteering abroad, sometimes (and normally you should always have to undergo a DBS check!). DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. This checks to see if you have a criminal record or are a threat to any children that you may be working with. Sometimes DBS checks are also known as CRB checks (Criminal Records Bureau).

Often these checks can seem annoying for many people and they do not see the necessity of having to undergo one. Especially since often the checks do not excuse any criminal records which aren’t to do with children or similar, yet still prevent people from working around them.

Why are DBS Checks Important?

DBS checks are important because everyone who takes part in charity work or who volunteers with children or vulnerable young people need to be trusted. If you cannot be trusted then obviously you cannot be allowed around children.

I personally have taken part in trips which I believe I should have been checked for. I was left alone with children for periods of time where they could have been vulnerable if I was dangerous. The company I travelled with said that they didn’t believe the checks were necessary as the volunteers would always be around adults and the children would be too, but I don’t think this was true as I was definitely alone at times. I think it is so, so important for charities and companies to check all their volunteers and if you sign up to one where they don’t, do what I did and request why.

I think RAGs especially should be trying to advocate for good checks for their challenges and trips they offer. Campaign for change if you think it is necessary!

Posted in RAG Resources

What should RAG provide a charity with?

We have previously looked at what a charity should do for your RAG, but we have not yet looked into what the RAG should provide for the charity. The role of RAG is to fundraise, and help others to fundraise, and therefore this is one of the biggest things that should be provided.

Money!

A RAG should fundraise for their core charity, and other charities throughout the year. They should provide continuous updates on how the students are doing, contact details of those students who wish to help, reviews of the volunteering that they are seeing to help the charity with their information and data, and of course tell them twice throughout the year what they think they will total at, and what they eventually do. This can be hard to guess, but it is important to do so.

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RAGs should also provide the charities with opportunities for them to come to the university and visit. This can include fresher’s fairs and other fundraising events including RAG Fest which allows them to talk about the work that they do, advertise their volunteering opportunities and recruit people for their available careers.

There are plenty of ways to fundraise and you can find more of how to do these on the Ways to Fundraise! section of the blog. Check it out and this can help you raise lots for your charity! The top priority of the RAG is to raise money for their charity.

Your RAG should use the recruitment season for their charity challenges as a chance to also provide student volunteers for the charity so that they can raise even more money! This is important to provide them with too.

It is important to remember that what you put in is what you give back. Those who work for charity are often volunteers too and you need to treat them all with respect.

Posted in RAG Resources

What Should You Expect From a Charity Partner?

A charity partner is one that is assigned to your RAG either through votes from students or from your RAG. They often apply to be your charity of the year around April/May time and then you choose to support them.

A charity of course is to take a backseat role during the academic year as it is the RAG’s job to raise money for them once they are selected, however, they too have their own role to play in the entire process. Some charities can expect too much and this is not acceptable when at the end of the day student fundraisers and RAGs are volunteers.

Resources

Many charities will have multiple resources already put together in order to help you fundraise. This can include online documents and fundraising packs with their own branded equipment that you can use or marathon vests etc for you to acquire. Some excellent charities even have free online shops where volunteers can order resources to use for fundraising. Your charity should always provide you with fundraising t-shirts, buckets, stickers and more to fundraise with. It is something very basic, even if you have to give a deposit for the bucket.

Support

This is a very basic need from the charity side of things. Charities are good places and you expect that they would hire good people, hereby it is not unnatural to assume that these people would be supportive not only of your work efforts, but be sympathetic of the times when you are not performing at your best. As is expected, students are very busy people whether you are in your first year at university or your last, and therefore sometimes you are unable to commit the way that you want to. A charity should always be on hand in some way or another (even if they cannot reply instantly) to provide support and check up on their volunteers. Remember, you’re doing a good thing of course, but from a business perspective, you’re really helping the charity out and they NEED YOU or they wouldn’t function! Don’t let them take advantage of your time or make you feel guilty for not doing something, you’re not paid, and you’re just trying to make a difference.

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Facts and Statistics

Any reputable charity organisation will have facts and statistics based around the work that they have done. It is important to have this because it shows supporters of your cause that the charity is actually doing the work that they say they are and that it is benefiting real people. If a charity cannot provide you with this then I feel it is questionable if they even really care enough for their cause, unless of course they are a start-up. Some charities will even have posters of the amounts they have raised and real-world impact to show off about, Breast Cancer Now has excellent resources for this.

Visits

Charities often have an allowance for their employees (especially the student section) to be able to fund visiting your university for the day or a few hours to deliver talks on what the charity does, meet up with the RAG, meet the challenge student volunteers and take part in freshers’ fairs alongside the RAG to explain more about what the charity does and help the RAG learn more about who they are representing. Sometimes it is good to have your charity visit so that they can provide real-world impact on the students, and help you recruit people to take part in your challenges.

Talk To Charity Volunteers

As RAG begins to recruit for charity challenges, there will be an increase in the requirement for charity employees to talk with their volunteers. After all, all student volunteers are sacrificing valuable studying time to help them out, so they should be checking in, even through Facebook Messenger, just to make sure that everyone is coping well enough. They are paid to do this so it is in their job description! As a RAG, do not feel pressured to have your fingers in all the pies, the charity is there to liaise and answer the difficult fundraising questions, so let them!

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Recognition

Charity volunteers, especially students are so hard-working and sacrifice a lot of their time in order to fundraise for a particular charity. Recognition is not what a lot of these volunteers strive for, but even the most selfless people in this world, love a little appreciation! You should expect that the charity you are supporting will choose “fundraisers of the month” and recognise your volunteers, as they are helping them out after all, and they deserve the thanks for the difference they are making! Even if it is just a card on Volunteers’ Week!

What does your charity provide you with? Don’t forget to comment!

Posted in RAG Resources

The Role of RAG President

RAG as previously mentioned is the Raising and Giving society. They can be called different things, but many go by this acronym. RAG Presidents are often voted in by the Student’s Union members or are chosen by the previous committee. Being RAG President involves a lot of hard work and effort, plus a lot of sacrifice to time.

There is more to being a RAG President than just being “in charge”. You have to work directly with the charities that your RAG is involved with, monitor emails and discuss with the higher Activities Leadership teams what you can and cannot do for that academic year, take on everyone else’s roles in some way or another to liaise, and also be a friend/counsellor to your team mates who sometimes will struggle with the workload.

Often, in RAGs, there is a Leadership team in the Activites department of you university that will serve as a paid liaison with RAG in case something goes wrong and supports the voluntary RAG team. As President, you will usually have had a little more experience than the other team members through either previous years in RAG or a strong voluntary background. A lot is expected of you in terms of taking care of the team and responsibilities are vast.

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Working With Charities

Although in the RAG team there is often a member who is involved with talking to the charities often (normally the Overseas Co-Ordinator), there is also the chance that the RAG President will have to do this too. After all due-dilligence is done at the beginning of the academic year and the core charity (the charity which the RAG will focus on fundraising their money for for the year) has been chosen, the RAG President will liaise and make sure that different events are sorted and that the charities know when they will be and if they have to attend, and make sure that all resources are passed on that are required.

Often, there are student fundraising sectors of charities with a team that only works directly with student volunteers and RAGs. These are the members of the charities who the RAG President will talk with and make decisions with about the fundraising events they want to offer that year. The RAG President can sometimes also be participating in a charity trek or similar, and therefore have to converse with the charities on a personal basis as well as a professional one.

Monitoring

As a RAG President, you are often in charge of “filtering the crap” from what is important. As RAGs have grown over the years, so has the demand for RAGs to represent different charities. RAG Conference and similar events mean that charities are able to aquire the emails of RAGs and begin emailing (sometimes spamming) RAGs to help them with their fundraising efforts and reaching out to students. Some charities however are not qualified enough to be represented by RAGs, don’t meet certain criteria of RAGs and even don’t have enough influence or hands-on resources for RAGs to use, and therefore these are hard to work with, and often are rejected. If you are a RAG President and you are receiving countless emails and the deal sounds too good to be true – then it probably is! Make sure to contact your higher leadership team for help in these matters, you don’t want to sign a contract for something and later regret it!

Remember also that some companies will be sending the RAG email account viruses and spam that they know will be clicked on. Use your noggin and do not click anything that looks suspicious and report it to the university safe emailing team to look at first, you don’t want any important information being stolen, and GDPR means that it is important you take good care of your student volunteers’ details.

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Working With Your Students’ Union Leadership Team

Every Students’ Union will have an Activites department or similar which will be responsible for the care of RAG and all other clubs and societies. The RAG President will often have to work with these team members in order to plan events for the academic year (along with the rest of the RAG team) and make sure that everyone on the RAG team is doing well. The RAG President will get the chance to liaise with some poster designs and maybe some of the recruitment process if the Leadership team deems this necessary. The RAG President has to be careful in the scenario of working with the Leadership team as often it can seem that you are equal to them, but they are in a higher position and what they say, goes. So, if there is a challenge you are keen to run but it doesn’t work with their criteria, then you have to let that go. Rules and due diligence are important because they keep people safe both on trips and in the university environment, the leadership team has these interests at heart, listen to them.

Having Fingers In All The Pies

Of course, the aim of having different RAG team members is that everyone has a different role so that all bases are covered and that everyone can lighten the workload onto each other. The role of the RAG President is of course to run the RAG and have a general overlook on everyone’s work, but sometimes this means that you lack in areas of one job, that means you have to spread yourself across multiple roles.

During challenge recruitment season for example, yo may need to help the Overseas Co-Ordinator a lot more with their efforts to find volunteers and fundraisers so that you are making a lot of money for the charities. On your part this means that you have to sacrifice a lot of time doing a job that you are signed up for, but as RAG President this is something that is expected of you. You are an all-rounder, a helper to all, cherish it as your team will (hopefully!) be very appreciative of it.

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More Than A RAG President

Although your sole job is to be RAG President (and no more is expected of you), there is the chance (hopefully!) that you, and your fellow RAG team mates will become good friends. In this case, there is inevitably going to be times when members of the team struggle with mental health, family problems, the pressure of university workload and more. When this occurs, you become more than just a RAG President, but you become a good friend and in some ways a counsellor.

I believe as a RAG President it is important to have bi-monthly meetings with your team members – even if you’re not close friends – to check in with them and make sure that everything is okay. Of course, if you notice they are struggling before that, then step in or speak with your Leadership team about a gentle intervention for that individual. It is important to take care of yourself and others on the team, or it can all fall apart and this can really damage everything that has been worked for.

If you are a RAG President, and there is anything you want to know about the role of a RAG President that I have not covered, then let me know.

Posted in RAG Resources

What is RAG?

RAG stands for Raising and Giving and is a student society run within the UK and Northern Ireland. RAGs can come under a variety of names including RADs and Karnivals etc. For the purpose of this article, I am going to use the term RAG as it is what I am most comfortable with due to my past RAG experience. RAG has a huge history and it has been running for many years, collectively raising bucket loads of money for charity! The purpose of RAGs is to raise money and offer opportunities for students to get involved with fundraising!

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According to online sources, the Oxford English Dictionary states that the origin of the word “Rag” is from “An act of ragging; esp. an extensive display of noisy disorderly conduct, carried on in defiance of authority or discipline” and offers citation from 1864 explaining this word was known long before that! There are different theories about where RAG came from, some even believed it derived from the act of collecting rags to clothe the poor in the Victorian era by students!

RAGs do many things in order to aid student’s unions and other students to get involved with fundraising, this includes having close partnerships with charities and often providing the chance to travel overseas by fundraising! ChooseaChallenge.com is a common partner used by many RAGs for their excellent overseas trips which I had the pleasure to embark on!

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Many RAGs have a “RAG Week” at their university. This week is there to give RAGs the chance to show off about the work they are doing, recruit for their overseas treks and at-home marathons, and also get more members to join their society, as well as of course, FUNDRAISING! In these weeks we tried to get many people to join our society and played fun small games with passers by in our students’ union!

Another thing that RAGs are often involved with are RAG Mags! These are fun magazines which RAGs publish including the treks that are being offered throughout the year, donation and volunteering opportunities and information about what the RAG is working on that year. There is some conflict over who had the first ever RAG mag, but it is thought they have been around since at least 1923! This is an amazing piece of history for student fundraisers to carry with them!

The challenges I mentioned above are often run by RAGs in partnership with chosen charities after they have gone through a due dilligence process, testing their ethical ways and seeing if they are safe. The students are recruited by the RAG and they fundraise a particular total in order to travel across seas to amazing places such as Machu Piccu, China and the Atlas Mountains. Often, the students raise the money and half will go to the charity and half towards the expenses of the trip. RAGs often also run marathons and other simple fundraising events such as bake sales.

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There are other challenges which RAGs are famously known for and these include “jailbreaks”. These events come in many forms and often involve scenarios such as races where students have to travel as far as they can without spending any money, get dropped of in mystery locations, or try to swap with other universities for a day by travelling with no money! These events can be super successful and people sponsor the students to do them by donating money.

Of course, RAGs are known as being gurus of fundraising (hence my charity guru title!) and they know how to get a lot of money raised! One way that RAGs tend to fundraise is by doing “raids”. “Raids” are street collections, involving RAG students taking to the streets and asking for donations to go in their buckets. They often come prepared in fancy dress and they are really fun events! “Megaraids” are very similar to these “raids” except they are often longer and bigger with students taking over London or fundraising over an entire week on the streets.

RAG is an awesome thing to be involved with and when I was at university it was the one thing that filled me with passion. I embarked on overseas challenges and learned tons about fundraising! If you want to join your university RAG, why not go and see your activities/societies department and ask the best way for you to get involved!?